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New Membership & Financial Alternatives for the American Synagogue

From Traditional Dues to Fair Share to Gifts from the Heart

Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky and Rabbi Avi S. Olitzky
Foreword by Dr. Ron Wolfson
Afterword by Rabbi Dan Judson

6 x 9, 208 pp, Quality Paperback, 978-1-58023-820-5

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Open wide your mind—and your community—to fresh concepts of synagogue financial and spiritual success.

“[A] welcome addition.... Replete with examples of synagogues, independent minyanim, and spiritual communities that have developed creative and sometimes surprising strategies ... that ameliorate what many observers believe are obstacles to recruiting and engaging Jews into their spiritual communities.”

—from the Foreword by Dr. Ron Wolfson

The concept of the “dues-based membership model” in synagogues was once an innovation. Now that model is in decline and sweeping change is required in order to reverse the downward trend in synagogue participation. This groundbreaking book provides synagogue and communal leaders with a useful process and the ingredients necessary to consider important changes in the synagogue, including:

  • Thoughtful new models for membership and synagogue finance
  • Examples from successful synagogues, bolstered by illustrations from the private sector
  • Practical steps for change and implementation

With checklists for exploring and adopting alternative models from nationally recognized congregational consultant Debbie Joseph.

“Practical…. Synagogues are well advised to think through these issues with the Olitzkys as their guide.” 

Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, PhD, professor of liturgy, Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion; author, Rethinking Synagogues: A New Vocabulary for Congregational Life and other books

“At a time when the current dues model is no longer aligned with contemporary values, synagogues must seek alternatives.... A much-needed resource for those who have begun this search.”

Cantor Adina Frydman, executive director, SYNERGY: UJA–Federation of New York and Synagogues Together

“Very helpful in freeing us from the bounds of the status quo and in stimulating creative thought.”

Rabbi Edward Feinstein, Valley Beth Shalom, Encino, California; author, The Chutzpah Imperative: Empowering Today's Jews for a Life That Matters

“An important resource for those congregational leaders that are ready to do the hard but necessary work to rethink their way of doing business.”

Rabbi Sidney Schwarz, senior fellow, Clal—The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership; author, Jewish Megatrends: Charting the Course of the American Jewish Future

“A strong book!... An ideal starting point. Buy a stack of these and reboot the conversation.... Full of interesting and tested new models that will push you to write your own chapter for the next volume on this topic.”

Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson, president, Wexner Foundation

“An enormous array of very useful offerings that will help inform the critical deliberations congregations and their leaders must be having as they set a course for a bright Jewish future.”

Rabbi Aaron Panken, PhD, president, Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion

“The Rabbis Olitzky have faced head on what many of us are afraid to look at: for synagogues to survive they must change. Their compelling book is rooted in their love of synagogues, and it is their optimism about what is possible that allows them to examine models that, however radical, all suggest a vision of Jewish communal survival.”

Rabbi Mychal Springer, chair, professional and pastoral skills and director, Center for Pastoral Education, The Jewish Theological Seminary

“A very helpful, thorough guide for synagogue and Jewish communal leaders, clergy and prospective clergy.... A veritable playbook that addresses the key questions involved with each model, the pitfalls to be avoided and the process synagogue leadership must utilize to implement them.... A must-read for all who care about the future of synagogue affiliation and its financial stability ... in essence, the future of Jewish life in America.”

Rabbi Norman Cohen, professor emeritus of midrash, Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion; author, Masking and Unmasking Ourselves: Interpreting Biblical Texts on Clothing & Identity

“Offers new thinking and new models of affiliation. Whether we are committed to old ways or searching for new ones, this work will provoke reflection and open possibilities.”

Dr. Steven M. Cohen, research professor of Jewish social policy, Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion

“Finally, a book that not only explains the challenges facing American synagogues today, but actually offers realistic, creative and constructive ways to overcome them.... Give[s] synagogues of every size the tools and the confidence to look beyond what is—to what needs to be.”

Rabbi David Rosen, senior rabbi, Congregation Beth Yeshurun, Houston, Texas

“[The] Rabbis Olitzky ... ask critical questions and suggest bold solutions, all in the service of vitalizing synagogues.... A helpful sourcebook for important conversations.”

Rabbi Deborah Waxman, PhD, president, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Jewish Reconstructionist Communities

“Packed with clarifying ideas and refreshing experiments, encourages us to get ahead of the curve, to be ambitious in our aspirations.”

Rabbi Yael Splansky, Holy Blossom Temple, Toronto, Ontario; author, URJ’s “Reform Voices of Torah: 2012 Commentary on Deuteronomy”

“Instead of focusing on the doom and gloom of synagogue life, the Rabbis Olitzky write a practical and common ‘cents’ book about how our temple communities can grow and thrive.”

Craig Taubman, musician; founder, Pico Union Project, Los Angeles, California

“Honestly, lovingly and productively examines the difficult issue of synagogue membership.... An intelligent and well-balanced book, based on careful research.... Should be a requirement for all rabbis, lay leaders and rabbinical students to read, ponder and begin to think about what the future of their organization should look like.”

Rabbi Asher Lopatin, president, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School

Rabbi Avi S. Olitzky is spiritual leader at Beth El Synagogue, St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

Dr. Ron Wolfson is Fingerhut Professor of Education at American Jewish University in Los Angeles and a co-founder of Synagogue 3000.

Rabbi Dan Judson serves as an expert practitioner in the area of synagogues, finances and funding models on the Union for Reform Judaism faculty.


Related Item(s)
Code Name Image
978-1-58023-856-4 Successful Synagogue Fundraising Today
978-1-58023-666-9 Relational Judaism
978-1-58023-408-5 Building a Successful Volunteer Culture
978-1-58023-667-6 Jewish Megatrends
978-1-58023-244-9 Spirituality of Welcoming: How to Transform Your Congregation into a Sacred Community
978-1-58023-248-7 Rethinking Synagogues: A New Vocabulary for Congregational Life


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